Marilyn Monroe slipped into the 90-degree water in a flesh-colored bikini and emerged without it. A man at poolside that late spring night in 1962 will be at Heather James Fine Art in Palm Desert Saturday evening.
Lawrence Schiller, photographer extraordinaire, is showing his Marilyn pictures, many newly revealed.
“After 50 years, some I didn’t think were very good at first take on a new meaning,” he said during a recent phone conversation. “They have a life of their own. There are lots in the big Taschen book — the story of her life.”
He refers to his tome “Marilyn & Me: A Photographer’s Memories,” $1,000, though there is also a modestly priced version.
Schiller, who currently lives in Manhattan, said he was lucky in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. “I live in a high-rise — in great shape, no problem. We could help others.”
Looking back, it seems the film goddess was a long way from his original subject. Skid marks. After he was given a camera for his bar mitzvah it became his escape. The Brooklyn lad had at age 7 looked up the garbage shaft just as a neighbor lady tossed an umbrella. He’s been legally blind in his left eye ever since. Marilyn would notice straightaway that he didn’t close it while aiming.
“I was dyslectic, although the word wasn’t in the dictionary then. I couldn’t read; I couldn’t spell.” He could listen to radio police reports. Like a junior WeeGee — the crime scene shutterbug — he chased down accidents.
But by the time the boy arrived on his bike, nothing was left to shoot but the tracks. He learned about lighting noting how the skid marks varied in the sunshine angle. The kid marketed the results to insurance companies and bought his first car at 16.
At 23, on assignment for a national picture magazine, he had his first encounter with Marilyn, on the set of “Let’s Make Love,” 1960. “Hello, Larry from Look,” she said.
That rapport went forward to two years later when she told him her secret plan. To drop her bikini and make news.
Wasn’t she even better looking in 1962 — she’d lost about 20 pounds? “At any weight, Marilyn was lovable, huggable and … ” He added another word ending with “able.”